The sales technology stack is essential, but can’t replace the essential skills of selling. Salespeople that can master both have a huge advantage over competitors in the market.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
As with many industries, sales is a rapidly changing landscape with many a fad changing the professional landscape. At a recent presentation by Craig Rosenberg from Topo HQ, I was pleased to hear that the pendulum is swinging back around on many of the ‘old school’ sales techniques. Until recent years these sales skills were the bedrock of how sales professionals conducted their business. As the sales profession becomes more digital in nature, less of an emphasis is being placed on sales techniques such as the needs analysis. Instead, sales team rely on well-developed inbound lead generation engines to deliver a steady supply of pre-warmed leads. Despite the relative easiness of selling these leads, the conversion rate from prescheduled demos and product trials remains stubbornly low for many teams.
The crucial sales skills of yesteryear seem to be the missing link for many of these teams. Surrounded by their well-developed marketing infrastructure, sales teams have an opportunity to improve the yield from their companies lead generation efforts by returning to well-proven sales methodologies. Whether a prospect is already warm or not, it’s important for it to be sales qualified with a proper needs analysis. The needs analysis not only allows the salesperson to confirm the needs of the client, but it’s also an important part of building trust and getting customer buy-in leading toward a purchase. IBM’s qualification framework, (BANT) budget, authority, needs and timeline, is one example of information that is essential to the sales process, but which is difficult to get without direct contact with a salesperson.
Without this information, selling based on benefits becomes problematic. A salesperson might have a sense for which features will appeal to them, but the specific context and impact on their business will still be missing. The needs analysis becomes the basis for contextual selling as the sale progresses forward through the presentation and the close. Without gathering that information, the sales person is moving forward blind, and without having the conversation with the client, the stage isn’t set to get their buy in. A successful needs analysis is as much about the journey as the result. The important thing is that the sales person takes the journey with the client.
In spite of some holes in how newer sales methodologies handle customers, sales teams now have access to a host of tools designed to organize and accelerate the sales process. Sales teams that figure out how to effectively use these tools have a significant advantage over their competitors because of the greater efficiencies offered by these new technologies. In particular, sales development platforms provide an efficient way of touching prospects multiple times through different channels as part of the warming up process, and CRM software allows the tracking of all customer touch points to ensure that they have the maximum impact on the developing customer relationship. Sales teams that can take advantage of these new methods can pursue more leads and continue following up with them until they reach a decision.
As impressive as these new technologies are, they are not capable of replacing sales skills. Customers still need to be shepherded through the buying process and a relationship still needs to be cultivated. Failing to understand this is holding many sales teams back. Today it’s not enough to be ‘new school or old school’. Instead, sales professionals need to be equipping themselves with the best of both worlds. By augmenting a well-honed set of sales techniques with the advantages of an advanced sales technology stack, sales teams have an opportunity to outsell and outcompete rivals in their space.